Forbes: Roger Federer world’s highest-paid athlete for first time


Roger Federer is the highest paid athlete in the world with an estimated $106 million over the last 12 months. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AP)

Forbes has released its list of the top-100 highest-paid athletes and there’s a new No. 1.

Tennis legend Roger Federer has jumped both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to take the top spot thanks to $100 million in endorsement deals from Uniqlo, Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz and 10 other partners. Federer earned an additional $6.3 million in tournament winnings over the last year.

Ronaldo ($105 million), Messi ($104 million), Neymar ($95.5 million) and LeBron James ($88.2 million) rounded out the top five.

Forbes collected earnings data from June 1, 2019 to June 1, 2020. The 100 highest-paid athletes earned a combined $3.6 billion last year which, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was a nine per cent decline from the previous year.

The NBA led the way with 35 players on the list. This included three players with Toronto Raptors connections: Kawhi Leonard (No. 43, $30.5 million), Kyle Lowry (No. 50, $28.5 million) and DeMar DeRozan (No. 76, $24.8 million).

The NFL had the second-most players on the list with 31, a jump from 19 the year before. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (No. 9, $60.5 million) and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (No. 10, $59.1 million) were the highest-paid NFL players on the list.

World soccer (14 athletes), tennis (six), boxing/MMA (five), golf (four), auto racing (three), baseball (one) and cricket (one) were also represented on the list. In 2019, MLB had 19 players on the list but due to the COVID-19 pandemic Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (No. 57, $27.3 million) was the only baseball player to crack the top 100 this time.

Naomi Osaka (No. 29, $37.4 million) and Serena Williams (No. 33, $36 million) were the only women ranked in the top 100. It’s the first time since 2016 that two women are among the top 100 and Osaka set a new record for earnings in one year by a female athlete.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Forbes had to estimate some earnings reductions for leagues that didn’t complete play or have had events delayed. For the NBA, Forbes applied a 25 per cent salary reduction to all players in their estimate. For MLB, due to no games being played, veteran players were given $286,500 for the months of April and May based on an agreement between MLB and the players’ union. NFL players’ salaries were not impacted by the pandemic because no games have been lost yet, while tennis and golf earnings were based only on events completed before the pandemic hit.

All earnings totals are before taxes and agent fees, and do not include investment income.

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